I love a good story.

Drama. Action. Romantic comedy. Tragedy.  Fiction or non-fiction.  It doesn't really matter.

We communicate through stories, and the best stories can connect perfect strangers in ways conversation or common ground never could.

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the midnight release of The Hunger Games.  I've read the series, and I have been looking forward to the movie since I first saw the preview several weeks ago.

There were seven nearly-sold-out screens at the local theater.  I was surrounded by teenagers and adults alike.  The majority of us had read the books, and several people were even wearing t-shirts and costumes in honor of the film.

These were people I'd never met - some of whom I'll never see again - yet we shared something last night.

We all watched the same film.  We all cried at the same heart-moving scenes.  We all jumped when the muttations sprang out of the woods.  For two hours last night, I was in a room with several of my closest friends.  And there's nothing like it.

A well-told story introduces you to a part of a character.  A fragment of their personality, thoughts, and passions.  It's left to the reader (or watcher) of the story to fill in the blanks with pieces of their own personality, thoughts, and passions.  You're left with a creation made in part by you and in part by the storyteller.

Their trials and victories become your trials and victories.  You feel their pain.  You cheer their accomplishments.  You understand their basest determinations in such an intimate way as cannot be described.

And when you share that story with someone else - and they connect with the same characters on such a level - you share a part of yourself with them as well.

The Hunger Games is an amazing story of adventure, determination to survive, self sacrifice, and love.  Not just romantic love, but the love one shows when offering to lay down their life for another.  The darker parts of the story challenge even the strongest sense of morality - what exactly would you do in order to survive?  What would you do so that you could ensure the survival of a loved one?

I read the books and fell in love with all of the characters.  Watching the film is no less entrancing - the film compliments the novel in a way I never though possible.  And now, I've had the opportunity to share that moment - cheering for a beloved character who is part fiction and part me - with a hundred complete strangers.  Strangers who, through the telling of an incredible story, are now as much a part of me as the characters we all love.